Number of home sales falling through in England and Wales up steeply at end of 2018

There was a sharp increase in number of failed house sales in England and Wales in the last quarter of 2018, down almost 50%, but overall the outlook remains strong, new figures suggest.

Some 49.8% of all house sales in England and Wales fell through before completion in the final quarter of 2018, according to a report from independent home buyer Quick Move Now.

This was up from 28.3% in the third quarter, while for 2018 as a whole it was a steady 30.6%, just 1% higher than in 2017, with the rate being higher towards the end of the year.

When it comes to the reasons for unsuccessful sales in the final quarter of last year, the research suggest that ongoing political and financial uncertainty have had an impact on buyer confidence.

The top cause of unsuccessful property sales in 2018, some 30%, was the buyer changing their mind and pulling out of the purchase, while 19% of failed sales were due to the seller receiving a higher offer after a sale has been agreed.

The research also shows that 16% of failures were due to a survey issue causing a buyer to pull out of the sale, 13% were caused by difficulty securing a mortgage, 10% were where either party felt that the sale was not progressing while 9% were caused by a chain collapsing and 3% due to the buyer wanting to reduce their offer after the sale had been agreed.

‘It was a difficult year for the property market. Continued political uncertainty, and knock-on financial concerns, undoubtedly took a toll on market confidence. This is particularly evident in the steep rise in the number of sales falling through before completion towards the end of the year,’ said Danny Luke, Quick Move Now’s managing director.

‘With speculation on which way interest rates will head after 29 March being mixed, many would-be buyers are choosing to wait and see before moving forward with such a large financial commitment. The annual fall through rate figure of 30.6% is reassuring, however, and shows a certain degree of market consistency,’ he explained.

‘It is challenging to make predictions for the year ahead, but I would expect the higher fall through rate seen in the last quarter to calm down, as Brexit unfolds and the UK property market find a new normal post-Brexit,’ he added.